Women and Negotiation: Do We Ask For What We Want?
I recently had the opportunity to attend a women’s networking event hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in St. Louis. Our speaker was Adrian Bracy, CEO of the Metro St. Louis YWCA.
Ms. Bracy told her story of growing up in Miami and not feeling like she fit in. She shared stories of how she found a small group of friends to support and accept her, ladies who still are a major support to her years later. Her stories of career transition as an accountant working in the NFL for various teams to her current role as the CEO of the YWCA in St. Louis were fascinating. It was something she shared about what inspired her that leads me to share with you today.
Ms. Bracy mentioned reading Women Don’t Ask a few years ago as she was on a plane for a high level job interview. From what she shared about the book, the lesson is that women are raised to receive an offer (job offer or other offers) and say “thank you.” Men are raised to receive an offer and start negotiating.
Do women know the art of negotiation?
There are exceptions to every stereotype out there, but in this case, I’ll venture to guess that many women do accept job offers or answers from our leaders without question. We don’t ask for higher salaries, for more help or resources nor more help from our family members. Is it because it is not comfortable? Is it because we are not competent in negotiation? Is it because we want to avoid confrontation? Many women avoid negotiation for varied reasons. However, whatever the reason, it is something we can learn and get better at with time.
Right now, today, you can:
- Arm yourself with information. Take time to think about what you truly need then do the research necessary to get yourself comfortable. This will position you for having a creative approach to the solution you desire.
- Don’t be afraid to be honest. A good example of honesty paying off comes when negotiating workload. Many employees today get their work from multiple sources; a supervisor, other colleagues, company leaders, clients, vendors…the list goes on and on. After sifting through what needs to be done, being able to approach people and squarely address and negotiate different deadlines and deliverables will be key to better managing the workload.
- Build a relationship. Whether you are negotiating with a family member or a potential boss, being able to show you are not afraid to ask for something and negotiate a situation will ideally build a stronger relationship and demonstrate you are worthy of respect. Show respect to them and understanding for their needs and they are likely to want to negotiate to help you reach your needs as well.
The key to being a good negotiator is not about how many negotiations you win at. The key is getting yourself comfortable with doing it more often- or just starting to do it. Take that step and you’ll be the one asking for, and getting, what you want!
Photo credit: iStockphoto